Baylor Fall Preparations: Health Services and Testing

August 12, 2020
Health Services and Testing

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Each morning as I reflect on the many things I’m thankful for, near the top of the list is that our Baylor Family will soon join back together for a new academic year. I am also thankful for the collaborative efforts of numerous campus-wide working groups to develop the best practices and precautions to provide a safe and successful on-campus start and completion of the fall semester.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve covered a wide spectrum of specific points of focus, collectively showing the layered COVID-19 prevention and mitigation strategy for Baylor to safely resume on-campus teaching, learning and residential life this fall.

Today, I’d like to detail several components of our health services strategy, with information on daily health checks, identifying symptoms of COVID-19, what to do if a student feels sick this fall and changes in our typical health-related operations.

Yesterday, I spotlighted Baylor’s Family First campaign, which reinforces the importance of caring for each other and mitigating the risk of COVID-19 within our campus and Waco communities. The Family First Welcome Care Kit you’ll receive includes a detailed student guide that will walk through the steps of conducting a daily COVID-19 self-check for the following symptoms – please do not ignore them, even if they may be mild, as they could be early signs of the virus:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Severe headache

In previous semesters, students experiencing these symptoms or any other ailments would simply go to the Baylor University Health Services clinic at the McLane Student Life Center and receive treatment. This fall, however, to mitigate the risk of community spread, all COVID-19-related symptoms will be treated through a newly created, appointment-only Respiratory Clinic located in North Village Community Center. Students feeling any of the above symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home and call 254-710-4939. Do not go directly to the SLC for medical treatment.

While all students, faculty and staff members are required to produce a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus, we will also be conducting on-campus testing throughout the fall semester. Our testing protocols will include testing symptomatic and exposed cases through the Respiratory Clinic as well as follow-up surveillance testing throughout the semester. Additionally, all students should expect ongoing COVID-19 testing measures this fall as we provide a safe and healthy learning environment on our campus.

If you have been unable to obtain your COVID-19 test results before arriving in Waco, please complete and submit the COVID-19 Testing Assistance Form. A Baylor staff member will review your form and respond with further instructions.

We will continue the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests – molecular tests by nasal swab that provide highly accurate diagnosis of the presence of the COVID-19 virus. In addition to PCR molecular tests, we will also be using rapid antigen diagnostic tests that can provide results in an hour or less.

While conducting baseline testing with the PCR tests combined with a robust, regular testing model is a key strategy in preventing and controlling COVID-19 community spread, we also must be mindful of some of the most basic and essential measures to help mitigate risk to our campus community. These strategies include:

  • Staying home if you don’t feel well – communicate with your professors and attend class online;
  • Regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (while singing “That Good Old Baylor Line,” for example), particularly after you’ve been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
  • Using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, even inside of your home;
  • Social distancing from other people outside of your home, keeping 6 feet or more apart;
  • Wearing a face covering – it’s already a requirement inside all Baylor buildings and outdoors when social distancing is not possible;
  • Conducting daily health self-checks to monitor the previously mentioned symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Getting a flu shot – more information will be available later in the fall from the Baylor University Health Center;
  • Limiting travel – if a trip outside of your home and the campus community can be avoided, try to stay home; and
  • Do not share personal items such as food, beverages, water bottles, towels, eating utensils and computers.

The countdown to Aug. 24 continues! Let’s make good, healthy choices that will continue to put Family First and keep our community safe throughout the start and duration of this fall semester.

Praying for you daily,

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.